Susan Riese and Statesman Spaniels
Statesman Welsh Springer Spaniels began in the mid 1970's when Susan Riese acquired her first Welsh Springer Spaniel. She became involved with showing Welsh in the breed ring with many trips cross country to find other Welsh springers for her dogs to compete against. There were fewer Welsh springers being shown back then, and finding the competition required long road trips. Susan also trained her first Welsh springer, Ch. Sugari's Sage of Sylabru, in obedience and hunted with her. As a breeder Susan's main goal is producing healthy and happy family companions. Statesman is known for being one of the most open kennels for sharing health information, and Susan is proud of this reputation. Health and temperament are the main priorities in any good breeding program.
Susan shares all known health information on Statesman dogs and puppies and feels that openly sharing health information (found on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website, www.ofa.org) is the best way to reduce the occurrence of health problems in the breed. Susan is an American Kennel Club Breeder of Merit, member of the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, and a retired American Kennel Club judge of sixteen sporting breeds.
Philosophy of Breeding
The goal of Statesman has always been to produce good Welsh springers in her breeding program. It was never her goal to breed winners. Susan believes the word "good" means structural soundness, a sound temperament and overall health (including checking hips, elbows, thyroid and eyes per Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) requirements). It has become obvious over the years that suffering can be avoided by making good breeding decisions based on facts.
Success with Statesman Welsh Springers has allowed Susan to travel world-wide to visit other breeders and as a judge (she is approved by the American Kennel Club to judge sixteen sporting breeds and junior showmanship). These travels have allowed her to spend time with other Welsh springer breeders and their dogs.
Sometimes during travels she comes across a dog that she likes so much that she wants to incorporate the qualities of that dog into her breeding program. The desire to incorporate that dog’s desirable traits into the Statesman breeding program justifies the importation of a puppy sired by that dog or acquiring his frozen semen. The infusion of genes from these healthy Welsh with good temperaments have provided an opportunity to bring in additional positive traits to improve Statesman’s breeding program.
Continuing education is extremely important to a breeder. In-person seminars for dog breeder were popular in the 80s and 90s. Now it is possible to learn online via various webinars. The American Kennel Club offers Canine College courses covering various breed and health concerns.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America provides learning opportunities at WSSCA national specialties (the annual national get together) and supported entry events (regional get togethers). These events are listed on the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America website: www.wssca.com.
The www.wssca.com website includes videos that are educational, not just for breeders, but for anyone interested in the breed. One of Susan's favorite videos is "The Working Welshman". To locate this video go to the WSSCA home page:
1) click on Activities
2) click on Education.
3) click on the video "The Working Welshman"
Some history about "The Working Welshman": In 1998, two other Welsh breeders and Susan worked together to produce this educational video about the desirable traits of a Welsh springer spaniel. It has video footage of Welsh in the field plus explanations of why these traits are desirable. There are other valuable educational videos on this WSSCA Education page.
HUNTING: The single best book on training a spaniel to hunt is James Spencer's book "HUP, Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way". No matter at what age you decide to get your spaniel into the field, it is important to get your spaniel in field for free running as well as enough training to ensure that you have control of your dog.
A couple specific pieces of information about Welsh springer field training. Less is more. Welsh springers will zone out and focus on other things if too much repetition. Keep training short. Better to stop early and wanting to do more bird work, than to keep going. Welsh need positive reinforcement in order to flourish in any activity. Welsh also understand and need fairness.
Books I recommend for field training are: HUP! Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way by James Spencer; and an excellent resource for retrieve training is Retrieving For All Occasions by Elsa Blomster and Lena Gunnarsson of Sweden.
Negative Effects of Early Spay/Neuter: In 2016 and 2017 Statesman had some startling Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hip results. In a litter of four, two pups had normal OFA hips while two others had OFA moderately dysplastic hips. Then a year later, a litter of five had four OFA normal hip results while one was moderately dysplastic.
OFA RATING SYSTEM:
NORMAL HIPS: excellent (best), good, fair
DYSPLASTIC HIPS: mild, moderate, severe (worst)
Regarding the three dysplastic pups, Susan had heard that early altering (spaying or neutering) of a dog could have negative impacts. She started gathering articles based on information produced from scientific studies in which unaltered dogs were compared to those altered at an early age. The results were astounding. The removal of hormones effects the development not only of joints, but temperament, thyroid, cancers and more. All three of these Statesman dysplastic Welsh springers were either spayed or neutered at an early age as recommended by their veterinarians. One of the three died at age five from lymphoma, a cancer associated with early removal of hormones, and another developed fear and separation anxiety problems.
The Statesman contract now includes a statement that the new owners of a Statesman puppy must keep that puppy intact until two years of age and only after OFA health testing has been completed may that dog be altered. It should be noted that in many countries, altering is only done for health reasons...never for the convenience of the owner.
Concerns about sensitivity to chicken in dog food and treats: I have fed Purina ProPlan Performance kibble food for decades with excellent results....healthy dogs that live a long time. In the last ten years there have been a few incidents of dogs with true allergic reactions to chicken in their diet or dogs with ear infections that reoccur. Talking with owners/breeders of Welsh in the Midwest, I have heard them talk about chicken sensitivity/allergies to chicken. In the KIND litter born December 2021, at least three have had ear infections. I have decided to put all of my dogs on Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin/Stomach with salmon as the source of protein. (Note: I returned to feeding Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 Chicken based food in the summer of 2022 as I like the condition and energy levels on my dogs better than the Sensitive Skin Salmon based product.)
Concerns About Aggression and/or Atyical Temperament: Some Welsh springer spaniel owners, including Susan, are concerned about some Welsh springer spaniels exhibiting aggression to humans and/or dogs. These behaviors are not typical or acceptable for the breed. Welsh springer spaniels should be merry, friendly, and active dogs. Yes, they can be reserved and hesitant in new situations or with new people, but they should never exhibit aggression of any sort. These behaviors have been observed first hand and involve aggression towards other Welsh springer spaniels and people. It has also been observed that dogs with these atypical behaviors tend to pass them on to ther offspring. Scientific studies about canine aggression are being reviewed with the hopes that a genetic marker can be found for this problem. Knowing if a dog carries the gene for aggression is important when getting a puppy, or for breeders considering using chilled or frozen semen as the temperament status of that dog living a long distance away or is no longer living cannot be determined.